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What is a Quaalude?

Methaqualone, or brand name Quaalude, is a central nervous system depressant that acts as a sedative and hypnotic.  Hypnotics are drugs that induce sleep.  Quaalude or methaqualone is a DEA Schedule I controlled substance.  Basically, substances in the DEA Schedule I have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.  [1]

What’s a quaalude? Methaqualone is a drug, hypnotic agent used for insomnia and muscle relaxants but was taken off of the market, in the U.S., in 1983 due to its high risk of abuse.  [2]  Quaaludes were the leading brand, with the active ingredient being methaqualone.

There were plenty of different sleeping pills in the 1970s, but this drug had the highest abuse rate.  This unpatented drug has been illegal for the past 30 years because it taught authorities and the medical industry a lot.  In fact, you can pretty much thank quaaludes for the restrictions on today’s addictive prescription drugs.

Why Were Quaaludes Banned?

The DEA Intervention of Quaaludes in the U.S. Basically, the original liberal disbursement of these drugs is what made it become illegal.  Too many people had become dependent on it.  It was dangerous but easy to obtain because the medical system was making money from it.  The DEA put the epidemic to an end, they believed that quaaludes were causing more harm than good.

Gene Haislip, the former head of the Chemical Control Division of the DEA, once quoted, “we beat em.”  The problem was eliminated because the DEA worked with governments and manufacturers around the world to stop reproduction.

However, the meth addiction epidemic in the U.S. eluded Haislip sadly.  While the DEA tried comparable means to stop meth, it didn’t have the same positive result.

 Some Other Facts on the Problem Methaqualone Caused in the U.S.:

  • First-time users were in danger of overdose.  The prescriptions were 300 mg doses.  Drug effects differ based on a person’s tolerance.  Some might take 20,000 mg per day. Then, others might die from taking 8,000 mg in a day.
  • The variance is what caused it to be so dangerous.  Death could result when a lower dose was taken while also drinking alcohol.
  • Many people became addicted.  Above all, it became a societal problem in the U.S. because the drug was being linked to so many overdoses, injuries, and accidents.

Can You Still Get Them Today?

The rights to openly purchase Quaaludes were discontinued in the US in 1985. Ultimately, it was a combination of the drug’s strong psychological addictiveness and widespread recreational abuse that led to the downfall of ludes. By 1985, the drug was moved to Schedule I on the DEA’s list. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no legitimate medical use, have a high potential for abuse, and be lacking in safety even when used under medical supervision.

According to DEA estimates, there were 20 million Quaaludes on the streets of the US in 1980, a number they projected would double within a year. However, what happened was the precise opposite, with the problem subsiding and being effectively eliminated in a matter of a few short years. How did the DEA manage to win this war on drugs where all others seem to have roundly failed?

Well, with this drug, this was accomplished by going after the source rather than the end-user. By targeting the manufacturers of methaqualone powder all over the work and inducing them to stop production, the US government worked tirelessly to stop what was becoming a clear and present danger. At the same time as this aggressive action, doctors started to use alternative treatments for insomnia largely due to the enormous stigma generated by this medication.

President Reagan banned the domestic production and sales of Quaaludes in 1984. Despite this, there are still labs making Quaaludes in Mexico and elsewhere. The drug is still found in India and South Africa, although under different names.

What is a Quaalude
The effects of quaaludes include drowsiness and reduced heart rate and respiration.
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Quaaludes Effects

Generally, drug-dependent individuals have commonly abused quaaludes. And, long-term use of more notable than usual therapeutic doses may result in psychic and physical dependence.  [3]

Side Effects of Treatment with Methaqualone or its Hydrochloride in Therapeutic Doses include:

  • Headache
  • Hangover
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal Discomfort
  • Restlessness
  • Transient Paraesthesia:  Paresthesia that comes and goes, usually caused by nerve pressure; it gradually disappears as the pressure is relieved.
  • Dry Mouth
  • Sweating
  • Skin reactions have also been reported
  • Aplastic Anemia:  It is a condition that occurs when your body stops producing enough new blood cells.

The syndrome of methaqualone overdose differs remarkably from that of other sedative-hypnotic ingestion.  Moreover, hypertonicity manifests toxicity in increased deep tendon reflexes and muscular hypertonicity, myoclonus, generalized muscle twitching, shivering, and occasionally seizures. [4]

What Do Qualudes Do?

The most popular uses of quaaludes are for their calming and euphoric effects. Because they reduce inhibitions and increase sensitivity, they are said to improve sexual activity. Quaaludes became highly abused drugs all over the world as a result of these extremely appealing qualities. Despite being prohibited, These drugs are nevertheless made secretly for recreational purposes.

What does a quaalude look like? This medication is prepared as pills and capsules and has no taste or odor. Usually, quaaludes are crushed and smoked along with other drugs like marijuana. It is also injected after being liquefied. The drug may also be known by names like Ludes, Lemmons, Quacks, 714s, Soapers, Super Soapers, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the street.

Quaalude use can result in drowsiness, a slowed heartbeat, reduced breathing, increased sexual arousal, and numbness in the fingers and toes. When someone addicted to Quaaludes tries to quit using the substance, withdrawal symptoms may also appear. These withdrawal symptoms can be anxiety, cramps, irritability, weakness, loss of appetite, seizures, hyperthermia, hallucinations, blisters, nausea, and vomiting.

Are Quaaludes Addictive?

If you regularly use this drug, you will start to develop a tolerance to the drug, which means you will need to take more of it to have the same effects. Your body will eventually become so accustomed to having the medicine in its system that you won’t be able to operate normally without it. During sobriety, you will start to experience painful withdrawal symptoms. Users are aware that the only way to eliminate these symptoms temporarily is to use more of the substance, which leads to an addictive cycle.

Long-Term Effects of Quaalude Abuse

One of the most significant reasons for the ban on this drug was the severe dangers of the drug. Even when taking the prescribed dose of Quaaludes, people can experience adverse side effects and are at risk of overdose. Abusing this medication, or taking them more often or at higher doses than prescribed, is even more hazardous.

Quaalude abuse can be hazardous for people who use it with alcohol or other drugs. Research indicates that the abuse of this drug has many negative consequences and can cause several long-term effects, including:

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Overdosing on this drug is a significant concern for those who abuse the drug. Just one dose of Quaaludes can be deadly, and the risk of overdose increases when these drugs are taken with other drugs or alcohol.

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Quaaludes Overdose Symptoms

  • Respiratory Depression
  • Slurred Speech
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to Light
  • Delirium
  • Convulsions
  • Vomiting
  • Renal Failure
  • Coma
  • Death

A lethal dose would be considered 30 times what was in one quaalude tablet.  However, when combining this drug with alcohol, that dose becomes much smaller, with only two grams likely causing a coma. 

Moreover, the drug was linked to overdoses, suicide attempts, injuries, and car accidents during its peak.

This drug’s abuse can disturb your body as you harm standard mechanisms, organs, and systems.

Physical Effects May Include:

  • Cardiovascular and Motor Dysfunction
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Photophobia:   An extreme sensitivity to light
  • Paresthesias:  Numbness of the fingers and toes
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Slowed Speech
What is a Quaalude
What are ludes? While there was an abundance of sleeping pills people had access to, quaaludes or ludes reigned supreme.  Then, just as quickly, it became illegal and, pretty quickly, out-of-date.

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Psychological Effects 

The abuse can lead to harmful psychological effects such as:

Social Effects

The following are ways that addiction can negatively interfere with your social life:

  • Decreased social interactions
  • Increased isolation and segregation from loved ones
  • Withdrawal from social activities and events

Quaaludes Addiction Treatment

The first part of a quaalude overdose treatment is detoxification, in which clients overcome their physical dependence on quaaludes.  Withdrawal symptoms usually present within 12 to 24 hours after the patient stops taking the drugs.

The severity of the withdrawal symptoms typically climaxes between one and three days after the last use of this drug.  Therefore, the first three days are critical for the client’s successful detoxification.  The complete detoxification for quaalude addiction typically requires seven to 10 days.

Quaaludes Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Convulsions
  • Delirium
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tremors

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Detoxifying Your Body From Quaaludes

Detoxification should typically be performed under medical supervision to lessen the withdrawal symptoms and ensure the client’s safe recovery. 

Clients undergoing quaalude detoxification usually receive monitoring of their vital signs round the clock.  Detoxification usually occurs in a quaalude treatment facility because the withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe.  Additionally, this facility is typically a hospital or a drug rehabilitation center.

Inpatient treatment for quaalude overdose symptoms follows the detoxification phase with psychological therapy to recognize any underlying causes of the addictive behavior.  This often includes individual counseling in which the client works privately with a counselor.  In addition, this form of counseling is best on an inpatient basis in which clients have daily access to the counselors if needed.

Furthermore, behavioral therapy is a method of replacing addictive behavior with healthier responses to stressful circumstances.  This therapy combines practice with positive support to help the client achieve lasting recovery.  In addition, cognitive therapy analyzes the thoughts and feelings that drive addictive behavior, for instance.

What is a Quaalude
Inpatient rehab is the highest level of care for substance abuse treatment

Lifelong Sobriety

Recovering from a substance use disorder does not need to be overwhelming or burdensome.  Above all, with supervision from an inpatient drug rehab like We Level Up New Jersey, you will be on the way to lifelong sobriety in no time.  Given that, don’t hold advancing in your sobriety. 

Instead, reach out today. Because a dedicated and compassionate admissions specialist will answer any questions and handle any concerns you may have, you may begin in an inpatient drug rehab eagerly.

For more information on quaaludes overdose symptoms or to start getting into treatment, contact us today here at We Level Up New Jersey.

FAQs on Quaaludes

Is Ambien a Quaalude?

No. They are both “hypnotics,” but quaaludes had a far more disinhibiting effect. Ambien is the response that most frequently appears when you Google “what drug is most similar to quaaludes.”

Why did they ban quaaludes?

The serious risks posed by Quaaludes were one of the main factors in the drug’s prohibition. People still risk overdosing on Quaaludes and may experience adverse side effects even when taking the recommended dosage. Even more dangerous than using Quaaludes improperly is using them more frequently or in higher amounts than recommended.

Are quaaludes opiates?

From the 1960s through the 1980s, Quaaludes (methaqualone), a synthetic barbiturate-like central nervous system depressant, was a well-liked recreational drug in the United States before the Drug Enforcement Agency outlawed its usage (DEA).

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[1] Methaqualone – Drug Enforcement Administration 
[2-3] METHAQUALONE – National Center for Biotechnology Information 
[4] Haddad, L.M., Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Co., 1990., p. 727
[5] What Are Quaaludes? Signs Of Abuse & Effective Treatment (
[6] Quaaludes Effect & 1st Class Effective Addiction Treatment (